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Toasts & Spills: Spring 2013 Edition

There’s quite a bit to talk about this month, so I figured it was as good a time as any for another edition of my semi-regular thumbs-up, thumbs-down feature, Toasts & Spills.

Let’s start off on a positive note and propose a Toast to Justice Milton A. Tingling of New York, who last month invalidated NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on sugar-sweetened beverages in sizes larger than 16 ounces—a day before it was to take effect. Calling the restrictions “arbitrary and capricious” and acknowledging the ban was fraught with loopholes, Tingling, at least for now, killed a misguided law that would do little to combat the obesity epidemic and a great deal to punish the beverage market and undermine consumer choice.

And while we’re at it, how about a Spill for the mayor of the great city of New York for vowing to appeal Tingling’s decision. Bloomie should just leave well enough alone and move on. I’m actually a fan of his calorie-posting initiative at foodservice establishments in the city, his efforts to get rid of trans fats and, my personal favorite, his indoor smoking ban. These, in my opinion, were smart public health actions. The big soda ban, not so much. Just let it go, Mr. Mayor.

And since we’re talking about the courts and misguided maneuvers, I’d be remiss if I didn’t assign a great big Spill to the truly ridiculous $5 million class action lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch asserting that the mega-brewer is watering down its beer. It’s silliness like this that pushes our legal system toward dysfunction and paralysis, as it’s nothing more than a colossal waste of time that does nothing but clog the pipes of jurisprudence. And if Budweiser is watered down? So what! If the beer’s not flavorful enough for some consumers, then they can go drink something else. Hasn’t anyone noticed that, when it comes to beer, there’s more choice than ever before?  

And that leads us to our next Toast: to U.S. craft brewers. The Brewers Association last month released 2012 craft beer volume and revenue figures and they’re even better than they were in 2011. The segment saw a 15 percent rise in volume and a 17 percent increase in dollars, earning total retail dollars of $10.2 billion. Craft share of overall U.S. beer volume reached 6.5 percent, up from 5.7 percent in 2011, while dollar share cracked the 10 percent mark.

Among the many beneficiaries of such robust craft beer business has been the publishing industry, as craft-themed books have become a genre unto themselves. Our final Toast goes out to author and frequent Beverage World contributor and BevOps craft tasting host John Holl, as his latest tome, “The American Craft Beer Cookbook,” is about to hit stores. The book features a collection of 175 recipes contributed by craft brewers, brew pubs and others in the craft scene throughout the U.S. My wife and I were lucky enough to be guinea pigs when John was testing out a couple of recipes and I can confirm that the book will be worth every penny of the $12.36 pre-order price at Amazon.

And that is where I must end things for this edition, as I am now too hungry to continue writing.

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